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  1. #1
    Lenient Tyrant/Moderator Brian Cronin's Avatar
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    Default Potsie Weber Syndrome

    I don't know if this even applies to anyone OTHER than Potsie on Happy Days, so I really am curious what you folks have to think on the topic.

    On Happy Days, the driving plot of the series for the first seven seasons is the idea of a teen and his two best friends getting through high school and college with the help of their cool, street smart older friend (while the teen, in turn, lets the cool friend be part of a family that he never had growing up).

    In Season 8, that changes when Ron Howard left the show. Don Most left with him. So now the show turns into being about the romance of two teens, one of whom is the sister of the departed lead and the other is the cousin of the cool, street smart guy. So now he works as a mentor to these teens. All said and done, it was a pretty impressive transition that kept the show quite popular (which falls apart after two seasons when those teens leave town for a spin-off).

    In any event, as I noted, the driving force of the sitcom leaves after seven seasons, as does one of his friends. However, one friend stays behind. Anson Williams, the actor who plays Potsie, decides to stick around on the show. Since he was a big part of the first seven seasons, the showrunners gladly kept him. Thing is, there was no real place for him anymore. Still, they're paying him, so they find things for him to do, often stretching credulity to its limit (The episode is at the high school basketball game - the announcer of the game is Potsie! Fonzie is up for a teacher's award - the emcee of the event is Potsie!). They eventually tried to address it by making Potsie work for Mr. Cunningham at the hardware store, but even that wouldn't really explain why he'd be involved in the plots on the show.

    Because of the difficulty of working him into the show, he would miss chunks of episodes at a time, and actually did not appear in the last few episodes of the series (including the finale).

    So what I'm asking is - can you think 0f other examples of this scenario? If so, how did that show deal with it?

    -Brian
    Comics Should Be Good, which features Comic Book Legends Revealed!... check them out!

    Also, be sure to check out my web site, Urban Legends Revealed!, for urban legends about Sports, TV, Movies, Music and more!

    And while we're at it, please buy my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And while you're at that, please buy my first book, Was Superman a Spy? and Other Comic Book Legends Revealed!

  2. #2

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    I can't think of TV show equivalents, but this problem has plagued members of Spider-Man's supporting cast a lot, especially Flash Thompson. There's always been a struggle to find ways to include him and as a result he would get lost for years at a time.

    Same was starting to happen for J Jonah Jameson and the rest of the Daily Bugle staff, as it was stretching credibility to find ways to still involve them in Peter's life, although the books did a great job in finding new purpose for JJJ by making him mayor.

  3. #3
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    For obvious reasons, this tends to happen on TV shows, where actors are under contract, rather than in comics, where characters can be dropped and added with relative ease. That said please consider the following:

    Comics
    Iceman: Among the original five X-Men, Bobby Drake seems to have had the least (or at least the most repetitive) character development over the years. No one seems to know what to do with him, but he's one of the original X-Men, so he keeps drifting back into the X-books only to drift back out again when everyone realizes he's got no real place there.

    Happy Hogan: Though he was eventually killed off, Happy fit this problem for a very long time because he was married off to Pepper Potts. As a result, every time a writer decided to bring back Pepper because of the character's chemistry (romantic, platonic, and/or professional) with Tony, they had to bring back Happy. Since Happy's role as Tony's confidant and bromantic partner had long since been filled by the more compelling character, Jim Rohodes, this got increasingly awkward as years passed with Happy having nothing to do. Even when Rhgodes was written out and Happy and Pepper got an off-panel divorce, Happy didn't find a new slot in the book's supporting cast despite being one of the "Heroes Return" era's regular supporting characters. Eventually, when the movies made Stark's potential romance with Pepper a widely popular idea, Happy was simply killed off.

    Pete Ross: In the Silver Age, Pete Ross was a key supporting character in the spin-off stories of Superboy, since he knew the hero's secret identity and could thereby surreptitiously help an unwitting Clark Kent preserve his secrets. Pete rarely appeared in the adult Superman's adventures, though. Nonrtheless, Pete's status as a long-beloved, central character meant that he was peripherally included in John Byrne's relaunch of Superman in 1986. In Byrne's retcon, though, there was no more Superboy for Pete to meet and befriend; moreover, most of Pete's classic role was given to Lana Lang, even his knowledge of Clark's secret. Pete was drafted as Lana's love interest and eventual husband, of course, but Lana historically loves Superman, and writers love revisiting that. Attempts to give Pete a role grew increasingly desperate, up to and including making him Lex Luthor's Vice President. (Pete swiftly resigned when Lex fell, thus sparing us all President Pete Ross as a recurring character.) At some point, it was decreed that Pete and Lana had divorced, and Pete gradually stopped turning up in the Super-titles despite his historically prominent role.

    Television
    Oz and Anya: On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a number of characters were introduced as or eventually became love interests for the two major supporting cast characters, Willow and Xander. As often happens, however, these characters enjoyed a much more tenuous link to the protagonist, Buffy Summers. When major supporting cast changes occurred, as with the decision to make Willow a lesban, these love interests were pushed futher to the side, but often kept appearing because they were part of the main cast. Supernatural gimmicks were sometimes used to give them more of a role, of course -- Oz became a werewolf and Anya reverted to being a demon for awhile - but ultimately both characters suffered diminishing screen time and minimal character development after a certain point. Oz eventually just left the show with his actor, Seth Green. But because actress Emma Caulfield was cotnracted as a regular, Anya kept on appearing long after her character broke up with Xander in mid-season 6, and by the endof that season she';d also lost her "demon reborn" plotline as well. Anya simply lost any real reason to continue hanging around with the characters, but still acted as a member of the "Scooby gang." She was killed off unceremoniously in the series finale.

    Xander Harris: Some would argue that this happened to Xander himself, especially in parts of seasons 4 through 7, but the show tended to use Xander in plotlines that showed he was aware of this, and that he kept the others "grounded" with his relatively non-supernatural, ordinary human presence. That said, the actor, Nick Donovan, has apparently claimed that Joss Whedon told him his character's plotlines were ended, but that he couldn't really kill off Xander either. It's an arguable case, though, since Xander was given some sort of plot-relevant role in each season's major arc, up to and including saving the world in season 6's finale and losing an eye in season 7.

    Elizabeth Miller: The wife of the main character of Barney Miller, Elizabeth was meant to be a major part of a show that focused on both Barney's work as a police precinct captain and as a husband. It soon became clear that the antics at the police station worked much better than the domestic comedy material. Still, Elizabeth Miller was listed as a regular and tended to appear in marginal roles for the first two seasons, and her character was mentioned frequently thereafter.

  4. #4
    Cool exec, heart of steel BillR's Avatar
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    When House got his "new" team during season four of the show, the former team members still stayed on-- Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison. Epps was quickly added back into the group, but Spencer and Morrison remained in the background for a good long while-- it was here that Dr. Chase became a super-surgeon. Eventually Kal Penn left so Chase was folded back in and Morrison's character was written out entirely.

    I'm sure there's more, I'm trying to think.

  5. #5
    14 Time Rita's Champion SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Brian I just wanna make some points about Potsie and his role on Happy Days.


    By the end of the 2nd season it was clear the dynamic of the show was changing. Fonzie became Ritchie's best friend and confidant onscreen and Potsie was dropped into a 2nd string friendship with Ralph. The direction of the show shifted to the friendship of Fonzie leaving under the same roof as Ritchie.

    Fonzie became Ritchie's big brother and protector. In a sense he became part of the family. The show shifted to fit this. He would help Joanie with homework , he would get kisses on the cheek from Mrs. C like a son would. She would even pack his lunch for work ! If he had a problem he would come to them like a son would at night , comically sitting between them in bed .

    Potsie had lived with Ralph and was like him...a background character. He had little interaction with Ritchie by season 8 when he left. In fact in one episode ...Ritchie spends a moment saying good-bye to his real best friend that sums up how far Fonze had replaced Potsie as his friend and ...brother.

    Richie says goodbye to Fonze
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvzwYKUFaRw

    In fact in one of the seasons 3-7 , Richie gets hurt on a motorcycle. Fonzie spends the night at the hospital and begs god to save him and breaks down crying. A rare feat for the character who broke his cool there. So by the end Fonzie was Richie's best friend on the show.

    Onto other shows....


    Family Matters- Originally a spin-off of Perfect Strangers featuring the Harriette Winslow character and family spun show...the focus of the show changed by the 2nd season. Steve Urkel took the show over and by the end of the 4th or 5th season , the home family aspect of the series changed to way out there adventures with Urkel & Carl. The show became a light hearted non-reality show where Urkel would shrink him & Carl. Or clone them...or anything else ya can imagine.

    By the end of the series Jo Marie Payton had gotten pissed at how much the series had changed and quit. In fact the anger had built up since season 2/3 and basically she said fuck it and left.
    "Heads up-- If Havok's position in UA #5 really upset you, it's time to drown yourself hobo piss. Seriously, do it. It's the only solution." - Rick Remender

    Sucks 200 character limit.

  6. #6
    Member 90'sCartoonMan's Avatar
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    Potsie had an interesting situation, probably because the show ran on so long, so it's hard to think of anything quite like it.

    On The Drew Carey Show, Drew worked for Winfred-Lauder under his boss Mr. Wick. Winfred-Lauder went out of business, and in the last two seasons of the show, Drew worked for an online store company. Mr. Wick got a job there as a janitor, but he didn't really have any relevancy to any of the plots and only made a handful of appearances until the end of the series.

    On Charmed, Prue's love interest was a cop named Andy, who was partnered with another cop named Darryl. Andy was eventually killed off, as was Prue a few seasons later. Darryl knew that the sisters were witches and helped them with police stuff. He was in the opening credits but had a diminished role and didn't appear in every episode.

    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    Family Matters- Originally a spin-off of Perfect Strangers featuring the Harriette Winslow character and family spun show...the focus of the show changed by the 2nd season. Steve Urkel took the show over and by the end of the 4th or 5th season , the home family aspect of the series changed to way out there adventures with Urkel & Carl. The show became a light hearted non-reality show where Urkel would shrink him & Carl. Or clone them...or anything else ya can imagine.

    By the end of the series Jo Marie Payton had gotten pissed at how much the series had changed and quit. In fact the anger had built up since season 2/3 and basically she said fuck it and left.
    There was also the case of Richie, Harriette's nephew. When her sister and his mother Rachel left, somehow Richie still hung around.

  7. #7
    14 Time Rita's Champion SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sCartoonMan View Post
    Potsie had an interesting situation, probably because the show ran on so long, so it's hard to think of anything quite like it.

    On The Drew Carey Show, Drew worked for Winfred-Lauder under his boss Mr. Wick. Winfred-Lauder went out of business, and in the last two seasons of the show, Drew worked for an online store company. Mr. Wick got a job there as a janitor, but he didn't really have any relevancy to any of the plots and only made a handful of appearances until the end of the series.
    The actor who played Mr. Wick ( Craig Ferguson ) basically left the show by 2003. He likely realized the show was headed to the shitter. Those final 2-3 seasons of the show was pretty bad. Its been joked ABC really paid the price for paying for 2 seasons of the show after 2001.
    "Heads up-- If Havok's position in UA #5 really upset you, it's time to drown yourself hobo piss. Seriously, do it. It's the only solution." - Rick Remender

    Sucks 200 character limit.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Shawn Hopkins's Avatar
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    It's a more limited one, but in the third season of Buffy Cordelia gets injured and because of that basically cuts ties with the Buffy gang. But, she's a popular character and that would mean she wasn't on the show. So there's a short period where they kept finding blatant and flimsy reasons for her to show up and make a comment or two even when she had no real connection to the plots.

  9. #9
    Lenient Tyrant/Moderator Brian Cronin's Avatar
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    I do like the idea of turning this into being about comics. I'll try to blog about it soon!

    -Brian
    Comics Should Be Good, which features Comic Book Legends Revealed!... check them out!

    Also, be sure to check out my web site, Urban Legends Revealed!, for urban legends about Sports, TV, Movies, Music and more!

    And while we're at it, please buy my new book, Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And while you're at that, please buy my first book, Was Superman a Spy? and Other Comic Book Legends Revealed!

  10. #10

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    Iceman: Among the original five X-Men, Bobby Drake seems to have had the least (or at least the most repetitive) character development over the years. No one seems to know what to do with him, but he's one of the original X-Men, so he keeps drifting back into the X-books only to drift back out again when everyone realizes he's got no real place there.
    Debatable-- at the very least, Mike Carey made Iceman one of the stars of his first X-men run, and did some great solo work with the character in the Manifest Destiny series. Carey did this by treating Bobby as a seasoned veteran, and making his immature actions a result of his emotional and ethical transparency (which, as Carey mentioned, works with the ice metaphor-- he's not cold, but he's clear in all his actions).

    The "Reason You Suck" speech he gave to his ex-girlfriend Mystique was awesome.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by shawnh View Post
    It's a more limited one, but in the third season of Buffy Cordelia gets injured and because of that basically cuts ties with the Buffy gang. But, she's a popular character and that would mean she wasn't on the show. So there's a short period where they kept finding blatant and flimsy reasons for her to show up and make a comment or two even when she had no real connection to the plots.
    At this point they were already preparing her to go off to the spin-off I suspect. Thus the whole injury and the whole "show up in strange times" after that - she had to be kept in the mind of the viewers (and she was popular) but she could not be from the main characters - 2 of them leaving at the same time would have been too much -- and she was the only one that could have been shipped to the new show anyway. That had always been my interpretation of this case anyway.

  12. #12
    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    What you say about Carey's run is true, Nitz, but the two decades before that, when he mostly sat around during the later Claremont run, the Lee/Portacio era, the Lobdell run, the Austen run....?

    And now Carey's not even writing Iceman regularly anymore.

    Superhero serials are cyclical. Flash Thompson, for instance, has often been shoehorned back into Spider-Man. The fact that he's now become Venom doesn't mean that he wasn't a "Potsie" for a long time before that development.

  13. #13
    Member 90'sCartoonMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    The actor who played Mr. Wick ( Craig Ferguson ) basically left the show by 2003. He likely realized the show was headed to the shitter. Those final 2-3 seasons of the show was pretty bad. Its been joked ABC really paid the price for paying for 2 seasons of the show after 2001.
    Those last seasons did suck, and I'm sure Ferguson knew, but why show up for those handful of episodes? Was it a contract thing? Or was he worried about his career (since I believe this happened before he got a late night show)?

  14. #14
    14 Time Rita's Champion SUPERECWFAN1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 90'sCartoonMan View Post
    Those last seasons did suck, and I'm sure Ferguson knew, but why show up for those handful of episodes? Was it a contract thing? Or was he worried about his career (since I believe this happened before he got a late night show)?
    I think he did it as a favor to the show or people there since they gave him a steady job and helped him. The episodes he did were filmed in 2001/2002 . The show would have ended in 2003 but ratings were so bad in 2002 and 2003 , they kept the last season in the can and finally ran it out in 2004.

    It was a unique situation where ABC had no choice , they paid for 2 more seasons of a show. It just totally crashed ratings wise and they didn't wanna air it.

    Carey in this case should have ended the show in 2000 and let his character marry Kate ...and ended it. Instead the Charlie Brown syndrome of letting the lead character keep getting kicked in the balls finally alienated the viewers and once the actress who played Kate left , so did the audiance.
    "Heads up-- If Havok's position in UA #5 really upset you, it's time to drown yourself hobo piss. Seriously, do it. It's the only solution." - Rick Remender

    Sucks 200 character limit.

  15. #15
    True heavyweight wrassler Jeremy A. Patterson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SUPERECWFAN1 View Post
    I think he did it as a favor to the show or people there since they gave him a steady job and helped him. The episodes he did were filmed in 2001/2002 . The show would have ended in 2003 but ratings were so bad in 2002 and 2003 , they kept the last season in the can and finally ran it out in 2004.

    It was a unique situation where ABC had no choice , they paid for 2 more seasons of a show. It just totally crashed ratings wise and they didn't wanna air it.

    Carey in this case should have ended the show in 2000 and let his character marry Kate ...and ended it. Instead the Charlie Brown syndrome of letting the lead character keep getting kicked in the balls finally alienated the viewers and once the actress who played Kate left , so did the audiance.
    Well, they DID try to keep the show in the public eye for as long as it can!

    J.A.P.

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